Matrimony is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ to confer the grace through which couples may love one another all the days of their lives.
In the words of St. Paul, the marriage of Christians points to a higher, more sublime reality, namely Christ's faithful love for his people, the Church. When couples marry in Christ, their relationship can only be dissolved through death. This understanding of marriage is in marked contrast to the way it is often looked upon through the prism of the popular culture: a loving friendship between two consenting adults (of any gender) for as long as it works out for them.
There are few things more important, therefore, than being well prepared for a life-long marriage in Christ. Practicing Catholic members of St. Andrew's need to contact the parish office at least six (6) months in advance of an anticipated wedding. (We even have a blessing for engaged couples so the sooner the better.) If there has been a previous marriage of any kind, it may take as long as a year to make sure that each party is free to marry in the Church. Couples who may be living together (for whatever reason) will be expected to do whatever is necessary to be in the state of grace on their wedding day. Two practicing Catholics are ordinarily married during a nuptial Mass. When one of the parties is not a practicing Catholic, the wedding is ordinarily celebrated without Mass.
Catholic marriages are expected to be celebrated in either the parish church of the bride or groom, as opposed to in a park, on a beach, or in a hotel. This should make perfect sense to those who intend to marry in Christ and for whom marriage is a celebration not just of the couple and their families and friends, but of the whole Church.
Catholics who did not marry according to the law of the Church (in the presence of a priest and two witnesses) should have their marriages blessed by the Church. This can be arranged through a meeting with the Pastor. For the purpose of encouraging Catholics whose marriages were not blessed by the Church, they are not able to receive Holy Communion until their marriages are so blessed.